Flint, MI—The Flint Community Schools (FCS) Board of Education has approved increased pay for the paraprofessionals union in the district.

At a Nov. 18, 2022 meeting, the board unanimously voted to raise the wages of paraprofessionals in the SEIU Local 517M Unit 150 union. The vote was 4-0 as Board Vice President Chris Del Morone and Trustee Allen Gilbert were absent. 

During the meeting, Board President Carol McIntosh noted that the vote helps “some people get their bills paid, [people] who work very hard for this district.”

Paraprofessionals, also called parapros, act as assistant to teachers, supporting scholars’ learning activities and behavior management.

Under the union’s old hourly wage scale, parapros’ wages ranged from $10.53 to $15.39 an hour. Under its new scale for the 2022/2023 academic year, Flint parapros’ wages start at $15 per hour and increase incrementally depending on years of service:

  • Zero to five years: $15.00
  • Six to 10 years: $16.50
  • 11 to 15 years: $17.50
  • 16 to 20 years: $18.50
  • 21 or more years: $20.00

These wages will also increase by $1 per hour in the 2023 to 2024 academic year. 

Carmella Johnson, president of the union and a parapro at Eisenhower Elementary School, thanked the Board for moving forward with the wage increase. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” Johnson told Flint Beat. “We just appreciate the Board and the members who voted with us.”

The workload of parapros has been mounting over the last decade given the staff vacancies in the district, according to Johnson. She said the wage increase will help the district address the shortage of parapros and attract more of them to work at FCS. 

Paraprofessionals Jan Martin and Laura Balknight attend a special Flint Community Schools Board of Education meeting on Nov. 18, 2022. (Nicholas Chan | Flint Beat)

Jan Martin, a union representative who has worked at FCS for 35 years, was full of emotion following the Board’s vote.

“I’m very overwhelmed,” said Martin, currently a parapro at Southwestern Classical Academy. “I’m overjoyed. It’s just unbelievable that it took 35 years for me to actually make a decent wage. Since I’ve been working for the district, I’ve always had to work a second job, sometimes a third job, to make my ends meet, and I am so glad that I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Over the years, Martin could have left FCS for another district, she said, but she has stayed for the scholars at Flint Schools. 

Martin added, “The best feeling in the world is seeing a child that has graduated from high school, and they remember me and say, ‘I remember you. You were really hard on me, but I see why and I understand why.'”

The SEIU Local 517M Unit 150 union represents over 50 area parapros. Its new wage scale with FCS is effective as of Nov. 18.

Nicholas is Flint Beat’s public health and education reporter. He joins the team as he graduates from Santa Clara University, Calif. Nicholas has previously reported on dementia and brain health, as...